I have been working with different environmental and ecological projects for many years. All my projects were about involving ordinary people in environment protection and make them remember about it on daily basis.
In 2010, PlasticsEurope Polska who was intensively advocating proper plastics waste management and conducting antilittering campaigns joined my project “Cycling-Recycling” aimed to promote recycling and energy recovery from waste, and to combat litter in the coastal and marine environment in the Baltic states.
Cycling around the Baltic Sea, I visited all the Baltic countries where I met local ecological activists. At that time the idea came up to initiate educational actions locally in the Baltic states to support fighting against marine litter.
Since then we have joined forces and worked together launching pro-ecology initiative Recykling Rejs – Let’s Recover Plastics, which we have successfully run over the last 5 years and for me it meant that I had to switch my “means of transport” over from a bicycle into a kayak.
During my voyages I’ve kayaked Poland’s inland waterways, promoting non-littering and proper waste handling, making sure to also involve the media, social organizations, and local governments and communities.
In 2014, I crossed with Recycling Rejs Polish borders sailing from Warsaw to Berlin. This event was organized under the patronage of the President of Poland as part of celebrations of the 25th anniversary of free elections in Poland, which were referred to by our motto: “Non-littering: Your free choice for the environment”.
Last year (2015), we reached the Baltic Sea. We went along the Polish Baltic seaside, where I checked the condition of the Polish sea and beaches, the way tourists behaved, and the progress in selective waste collection schemes launched in local municipalities located at the Baltic seaside.
“Recycling Rally– Let’s Recover Plastics” is an educational project. Therefore, what is most important about it is to promote non-littering and spreading reliable knowledge of recycling and recovery of plastics.
Primarily, we tend to show good practices, but we also talk about problems that need to be solved. In order for any education to be effective, it must be interesting and public in nature, so we are doing our best to attract the attention of the media to have an opportunity to reach out to millions of people.
Last year’s example speaks for itself: our “Recycling Rejs” was covered by one nationwide-wide public TV station and two local TV stations with millions of viewers, and few hundreds other media releases. It is very important that our campaigns are supported by local authorities, social organizations or governmental institutions, including Ministry of the Environment or European ecological organizations (e.g. Coalition Clean Baltic). Thus, what we are doing is widely appreciated by various circles, and our educational activities become more effective.
In my own ecological education practice, I always try to be more focused on showing positive examples and rather inviting people to engage in common actions than on instructing or scaring them.
The project is alive not only during the rally itself – it has a living dedicated webpage but we organize also series of meetings held in schools and libraries all over Poland, during which we discuss the fascinating nature of Polish rivers and the Baltic Sea, and encourage people to protect it by, at least, non-littering and handling their waste properly. My dream is the concept of ecological education not to function as a separate field of education. Protection of natural resources and environmental issues should be an intrinsic element of education at each of its particular stages, pre-school, school, home, media, and central and local government education.
And my message for everyone is obviously “Enjoying the environment you may leave behind nothing but your footprints in the sand.”
Dominik Dobrowolski www.recykling-rejs.pl